Sunday 16 June 2019

'There is so much more to come from exciting young Tribe side' - Shane Walsh sends out warning in race for Sam

Galway’s Shane Walsh celebrates with the Nestor Cup after his team’s victory over Roscommon Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Galway’s Shane Walsh celebrates with the Nestor Cup after his team’s victory over Roscommon Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It was perhaps unsurprising that Shane Walsh wasn't keen to be drawn on his own performance when Galway emerged from their dressing-room in Dr Hyde Park on Sunday.

"The result was the big thing at the end of the day," he said. "It's a nice little Father's Day present for Dad as well."

That was the extent of his analysis of his own performance but anyone who was in Roscommon on Sunday would have seen that Walsh had delivered a man-of-the-match performance laced with class.

His points came from play and from frees, from both feet and from a variety of angles as well as out of the hands and off the ground.

And it was all underpinned by an extraordinary athleticism and pace. His performance was a reminder that Kevin Walsh has helped turn his namesake's undoubted raw potential and talent - which was announced to the country with a brilliantly improvised point against Tipperary in 2014 - into a player of real substance.

That was evident when Galway were swimming against the tide in the first half, Shane Walsh was their best player. In a game of fine margins, he didn't miss a free either.

"We made a lot of mistakes in the first half and we just about cut them back," Walsh said.

"We just started doing what we've been doing very well the whole year, moving the ball quickly and really challenging Roscommon.

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"We didn't ask questions of them in the first half. They were probably sauntering around the place and it probably didn't look good for us at half-time.

"Look, it's a sign of the team. The average age is about 24 or 25. We kept going and kept going. That's what the team is all about."

Galway were perhaps lucky to be only a goal down at the break. And when Conor Devaney cracked home a penalty to put Roscommon back in the lead late in the second half, it might have been the undoing of the Tribesmen.

But Walsh insists he never thought the game was beyond them.

"To be honest, no. I (put) every expectation out the window. I just said, 'I'm going to go and play a game of football.' I think that's the way we all saw it.

"We were going to go play football, we'll take the first 35 minutes and then regroup after that. That's what it's all about, playing it as we saw it. If you look back too much on last year you can get drawn back into it again.

"When they got the goal it probably looked like it was curtains again but in fairness we just showed the character that's there in the team and everyone stood up."

"We were hurting from last year (when they lost a Connacht final to Roscommon by nine points) and we didn't do ourselves justice at all. That was a big motivating factor. In the first 35 minutes we were probably saying, 'Was it a one-off or what was it?' It's hard to put last year into words but this year it was just all about us performing and getting what we really wanted today.

"Thankfully you saw the runners, you saw the subs coming on, the likes of Adrian Varley, Eoghan Kerin, Peter Cooke, 'Army' (Sean Armstrong) was brilliant when he came on. They all chipped in and did their bits. That's what makes our team so strong." 

Galway became the first team to book their spot in the 'Super 8s', where they will be paired with the Munster champions and two other teams that come through the back door.

And after a near perfect season that has seen them lose only to All-Ireland champions Dublin, Walsh insists his team can get to another level.

"We definitely do (have a lot to work on). Our transition today wasn't where it needed to be and our marking was a bit slack. Our forward play was slack as well, not choosing the right shot selection.

"You have to take everything into account on the day like nerves and that. The group is learning all the time. We've found ourselves in every situation between the league and championship.

"Thankfully we've dug ourselves out of it today and we just look forward now to tonight and the next few weeks.

"It's a young group so there's definitely so much more I think in this group. Even today, we had the likes of Danny (Cummins) that wasn't even togging and lads that are flying in training.

"Kevin and the lads have the worst job in the world in trying to pick 26 players to tog for Galway. It's a great place to have it. I really do think that if lads keep driving it we can bring it to another level." 

Irish Independent

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